by Fr. Vic Kevin Ferrer
photos from Northern Luzon Clergy Retreat
Some eight hundred priests and fourteen bishops from Northern Luzon dioceses are gathered in Baguio City for a regional retreat from July 31 to August 4, 2023 the Memorial of St. John Mary Vianney patron saint of priests.
Despite the inclement weather, priests filled the Baguio Cathedral of Our Lady of the Atonement on Monday, July 31, to begin their retreat with prayers and the Holy Eucharist. Rev. Fr. Chris Alar of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception is the preacher for this retreat. Fr. Alar, who is the host of the EWTN show called 'Living the Divine Mercy,' is also well known for his talks, books, and youtube videos about the Catholic faith. The message of Divine Mercy is the main topic of the retreat with the theme: "They will look upon Him whom they have pierced (Jn 19:37)."
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan began his homily for the Mass of the first day of the retreat by saying, "How beautiful it is for brothers to be together. But, more beautiful than brothers coming together are brothers allowing themselves to be held by the hand of God." This is only the second time that the Northern Luzon Clergy Retreat is being held. The first one was in July 2018 during the celebration of the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.
Participating in the retreat are priests from the Archdioceses of Nueva Segovia, Tuguegarao, and Lingayen-Dagupan, Dioceses of Laoag, San Fernando (La Union), Ilagan, Bayombong, Alaminos, Urdaneta, Bangued, Baguio, and San Jose (Nueva Ecija), Prelature of Batanes, and the Apostolic Vicariates of Tabuk and Bontoc-Lagawe.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law (Canon 276) obliges all ordained ministers to undertake a spiritual retreat once a year. Each diocese usually arranges a retreat for their clergy but on special occasions regional retreats like what is ongoing in Baguio are held.
The main venue of the retreat is the Baguio Cathedral which is also an iconic tourist destination. It is closed to the public for the entire duration of the clergy retreat.